The Metropolitan Museum of Art possesses a remarkable collection of about 175 pastels by important American artists such as Mary Cassatt, James McNeill Whistler, Arthur G. Dove, and Georgia O'Keeffe. Because of their extreme fragility, these works are rarely exhibited and are never loaned to other institutions. The collection ranges from charming eighteenth-century pastel portraits to abstract works by twentieth-century modernists.
American Pastels, prepared under the supervision of Doreen Bolger, Curator in the Department of American Paintings and Sculpture, includes extensive entries for thirty-five pastels, all reproduced in full color. The catalogue opens with two indepth essays: "Revival & Revitalization" by Doreen Bolger and six graduate students from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, provides an art-historical overview of pastel painting in America from 1880 to 1930; "Materials & Techniques" by Marjorie Shelley, a Museum conservator, covers the technical aspects of the delicate medium.
A check list of the American pastels in the Museum's collection, illustrated with duotone reproductions of each work, concludes this volume, a valuable reference for all students of American art.